10 Reasons You Need to Visit Serbia (Before Everyone Else Does)
Why Serbia Should Be at the Top of Your Bucket List
Better known for producing outstanding tennis players than as a tourist destination, Serbia is one of Europe’s last pockets of resistance to mass tourism. With no coastline, a motley history of conflict and no obvious tourist attractions, Serbia tourism is practically nonexistent and as a result the country does not feature on many bucket lists.
For anyone willing to give Serbia a chance though, this Balkan country will prove itself to be one of the most rewarding and surprising nations in Europe. Serbia is a lot like its people; spirited, hospitable and imbued with a lust for life. Here you will be given a warm welcome, passed a shot of rakija and shown an unforgettably good time.
Named by Lonely Planet as one of the best travel destinations in 2015, Serbia’s reputation for unparalleled nightlife, culture and adventure is spreading. If you’re still not convinced that you need to go, here are 10 things that might just change your mind.
1. The Nightlife Alone is Worth Visiting For
Belgrade is notorious for its hedonistic approach to partying. Barges along the Danube and Sava riverbanks have been transformed into infamous floating nightclubs that rival Ibiza in intensity. In other parts of the city, world-renowned DJs frequent buzzing electronic venues, whipping beat-hungry crowds into a delirium every night of the week.
The underground nightlife scene is thriving, with illegal bars and clubs constantly popping up and then promptly disappearing again. Belgrade brings its own brand of effortless cool to the speakeasies and dives throughout the city. Stashed in the most unlikely places, with no numbers to find the entrance, half the fun is just getting in.
Cheap cocktails, friendly locals and good music takes care of the other half.
2. Exit Festival is Like No Other
Exit festival has been celebrating freedom and democracy for 15 years. Born in 2000 as a student protest against the government, Exit has grown into a peerless, transcendental, no-holds-barred party that took out the award for Best Major European Festival in 2014.
Held in the majestic Petrovaradin fortress in Novi Sad, spanning four nights and up to 20 stages with music from practically every genre you can think of, Exit is the kind of experience you will be talking about for years afterwards.
3. There Are Watermelons Everywhere
In the summer season, you’ll see watermelons piled up on the side of the road, stacked on truck beds and overflowing from fields that can no longer contain their ripeness. The quintessential hot weather fruit, you won’t be able to resist grabbing a slice, or a quarter, or the whole thing — because why not.
It is an unsubstantiated fact that watermelon tastes better consumed in Serbian sunshine.
4. Belgrade Has Countless Stories to Tell
Belgrade has reportedly been destroyed and rebuilt 40 times throughout history. One of the oldest cities in Europe, Belgrade’s history spans 7000 years. From Barbarians to Roman Emperors to Tito, Belgrade has countless stories to tell.
The fortress found smack in the middle of the city has been around since the sixth century, and rumor has it that no metro has been developed for fear of the complications unearthing Roman ruins would bring.
5. It’s Astonishingly Cheap
Budget-savvy backpackers are already starting to catch on, lured in large part by the inexpensive alcohol, but this is something travelers of all kinds need to know. Cruises on the Danube, dining in upscale restaurants and sleeping in clean accommodation are all easily affordable in Serbia.
Ski and spa resorts are also quickly gaining popularity and steadily drawing higher-end travelers away from their over-priced counterparts in other, well-trodden parts of Europe. As visitor numbers climb however, so will the prices — so better get in quick.
6. Serbia Is a Meat Lover’s Paradise
While vegetarians will have to get by on cheese burek and watermelons, meat eaters will relish Serbia’s cuisine. Roasted, grilled, cooked; Serbs love meat in any shape or form and tend to consider a meal incomplete without at least one variety of animal available.
The national dish is pljeskavica, a dish made of ground meat and shaped into a patty. Cevapi, skinless sausages in bread, is a popular snack and anything that can be barbequed will be barbequed.
Rakija is the local moonshine — sorry, national drink — and it can cure anything. According to locals, a shot of rakija is the best way to start the day. A shot before a meal is allegedly good for digestion and according to Serbian grandparents, rakija is also effective in curing anything from sore throats, to tooth ache, to depression.
Rakija can be made from plums, cherries, apples, apricots; you name it and Serbs can turn it into potent alcohol.
8. Summer Evenings Are for Strolling
Sun-scorched streets that are deserted at midday come alive the moment the temperatures finally become bearable. The young, old and everyone in between take to the streets in their evening best, to promenade sedately and make the utmost of the season.
This is something of an event each evening, and the streets buzz with buskers and performers of all kinds, making every night feel like a celebration.
9. You’ll Be Embraced by Serbian Hospitality
You’ll feel at home thanks to generous Serbian hospitality. Friendly, outgoing and spirited, Serbian people embrace life and rakija with gusto. Keen to put the past behind them and shake off any negative perceptions still floating around, Serbians are also particularly good at embracing visitors.
Serbian hospitality is a serious business. If you are lucky enough to be invited into a Serbian home, be prepared to eat and drink very well. Serbian people also happen to be very good looking. Just, you know, by the by.
10. Tara National Park is Incredibly Beautiful
Home to Tara Mountain, Tara National Park throws together imposing mountain peaks with plunging gorges. The sheer cliffs, turquoise water and breathtaking lookout points will soon make you forget about the absence of coastline in Serbia. This is the place where adventure lives in Serbia, with rafting, hiking and canyoning just a few ways to discover this wild corner of the country.